It appears that sharing has taken quite a bit of heat as of late. Mommy bloggers are taking to the internet to list the reasons why they won’t make their children share. Just take a look at this article from Scary Mommy.
So, why is sharing, the concept we thought we were supposed to teach our children, getting a bad rap all of a sudden? Why are more and more parents jumping on the anti-sharing bandwagon?
I think the key in answering these questions is to look at the definition of sharing.
According to the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary, sharing is defined as
: to have or use (something) with others
of two or more people : to divide (something) into parts and each take or use a part
: to let someone else have or use a part of (something that belongs to you)
After looking at the definition, I’m a little confused as to why parents would not be interested in teaching their children to share. Don’t we all want our children to grow up to be valuable members of society, sharing our time and goods with others, especially those less fortunate than us?
With that definition in mind, here are some reasons why I will teach my kids to share:
Why I will Teach my Kids to Share
1. Taking is not sharing
I understand where anti-share parents are coming from. Take this scenario for instance:
Your child is currently playing with a train at the local library. Another child walks up and demands the train.
Why should you force your child to give up that train just because some other kid insists upon using it in that moment? Yet, if you want to teach your child to share, it doesn’t mean you must rip the toy out of your child’s hand at that exact moment. That really won’t teach your child to share either. Instead, you can have a conversation. It’s the perfect teachable moment. Help lead the children into making a compromise. Your child can continue playing with the train for 5 minutes, then the other child can have a turn.
2. Just because you get to a toy first doesn’t mean it’s yours
Here’s another scenario:
You’re at the park and your child wants to go on the swings. He would swing on that swing all day long if he could, but there’s a line starting to form.
Unless you brought a toy from home*, odds are the toys and playground equipment are meant to be shared. Yes, you may have snagged the swing, the ball or the truck first, but that doesn’t mean it’s yours to occupy for as long as you are there. We deal with this even as adults. I know how exciting it can be to get on a train and find plenty of wide open seats. Yet, when it starts to get crowded, it’s only common courtesy to move over and make room so others can sit down. I wonder if those who like to lay across two seats were taught how to share when they were younger?
*I often see children bring toys from home only to become upset when other children try to play with that toy. Well, I wouldn’t bring a toy from home unless you mind sharing it. After all, how weird would it be if I brought a bottle of wine to a party and didn’t offer it to anyone else?
3. Adults share, sometimes they are even forced to share
Many of these share-bashing articles point to the idea that adults don’t share, so we shouldn’t force children to share. Well, thankfully, adults do share. We share our time with our children, we share our money with those less fortunate, we share the road and move over on the walkways. I am currently packing up our baby swing to share with my sister-in-law and trying to convince my husband to donate just a small portion of his absurd t-shirt collection.
We are even forced to share with others. Hello, taxes! Would I share my car with a complete stranger who demanded it? No, I would call the police because that would be considering stealing. Again, taking is not sharing.
4. Life isn’t fair
Here’s a scenario:
The entire car ride over to the library, your child is plotting how to get to the computer first to play his favorite game. He is thrilled to find it empty when you arrive. 5 minutes later he’s devastated when he’s interrupted by another child that needs to do research.
It may not appear “fair” to your child, but it’s still a valuable lesson to learn that we don’t always get what we want. I would hope most people would give up their seats on a bus to an elderly person or pregnant woman even though they claimed those seats first. It’s just the right thing to do.
5. Material things aren’t everything
I want to teach my children to share because I want them to understand that material things aren’t that important. I would like my children to get to a point where it’s not a big deal to let another child have a turn with a toy. Fortunately, we have plenty.
I would gladly share my clothes, car and even my home with my family and friends. And, as much as I love certain material items (I’m looking at you, brand new DSLR camera) my life would not end without them.
6. Sharing is a skill
Sharing, like bike riding and reading a book, is a skill. Yes, it could be possible to teach yourself how to ride a bike or even read a book, but it’s a lot easier if you have a teacher. Just like you wouldn’t hand a book to a child and simply say, “read,” you shouldn’t expect a child to learn how to share if you demand that they, “share,” the moment another child comes over and demands a toy. Instead, you can use that moment to model and eventually guide your child into discussing and making a compromise about taking turns (see #1).
Just like reading and riding a bike, sharing takes practice. This leads me to the best reason to teach your kids to share…
7. Sharing is nice
You ever have a moment where you help someone else out? Maybe you buy a homeless person a nice, warm lunch. Maybe you cook a dinner for new parents. Maybe you let someone have the last piece of your pack of gum. Maybe you let your toddler play with your makeup even though it’ll most likely get ruined.
It feels good to share. It’s the right thing to do. Sharing is nice.